July 27,2009

Homa Arjomand





Letís face it Honor Killing is not just a domestic violence. It is murdering. Murdering the women whom thought not to be submissive, murdering the young girls who are thought not to be obedient by those who wish to regain their so-called honor in their community.

One of the most recent victims of honor killing in Ontario, Canada are Zainab Shafia (19), Sahari Shafia, (17) and Geeti Shafia (13), along with Rona Amid Mohammad their carer who was the first wife of their father living in the same house with the second wife in polygamy. They were murdered for not honoring the inhuman tradition and culture, for not honoring the collective viewpoints of their community, for wishing to practice their individual rights. They too were tried by members of their own family and sentenced to death.

Mohammad Shafia, the husband and the father of the three daughters (Zainab,Sahari and Geeti), and the second wife who was the three girlsí mother as well their eldest son, the brother of three sisters (who just turned 18) formed their own family court and the decision was made, the plan was plotted and four innocents brave ones were murdered in Ontario, their car was submerged in the Rideau Canal on June 30. These victims had desire to live in a modern society, and wished to have their own lifestyles. They did not want the interference of religion and the backward culture in their lives. They were at the forefront of the battle for individual rights verses collective (minority rights).

Where are you as a concern global citizen standing?††

I wonder how much more the society can tolerate this horrendous, inhuman action, how many more victims can be silenced by death before the members of society stand firmly for a progressive change, a change that ends the honor killing for good.

Enough, is enough! Stop misleading!

Honor killing is not comparable with domestic violence. Neither in its characteristic, nor in its performance or the way it is carried out. But both the honor killing and domestic violence must be condemned greatly by all members of the society.

Letís define these two. Domestic abuse or spouse abuse occurs, when one person is in a close relationship with the victim. The abuser tries to control the other partner. The abuser uses fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear the victim down and gain complete power over the victim.Abuser will threaten to hurt the victim, or harm those around her, specially her beloved ones such as her children. In domestic violence there is no family trial. The abuser might hire a hit man to murder the victim or victims but the abuser conceals his action from all members of his/her relatives and the community for he/she knows that no member of society, be it the immediate member of the family, or community will support his or her action of harming the victim. But in case of honor killing all the members of the family participate in a family meeting and form a religious/ cultural tribunal. They then condemn the victim or victims to death in their own family court. They subsequently participate in plotting a plan. At the same time they will decide who must have the honor of carrying out the plan of killing in order to regain this so- called the honor of the family amongst all members of his relatives and the community.

In Honor killing, religion, backward culture and tradition play important rules. The victims are women and young girls who do not wish to follow their ancestorsí tradition and religion.They seek better lives and wish to choose their own lifestyles and in many cases they wish to choose their own partner or not to have a partner at all.

In countries where backward culture and tradition has been promoted and guarded by religious movements, the father or the eldest brother will take the duty to kill the victim or victims in public. And it is announced in public with pride. He then gains status. It has been noted that the head man (mullah, Imam or the sheik) of that community has showered the murderer with various gifts and money. But in the West the order of honor killing is carried out either by a group or by the youngest member of the family, if possible under the age of 16.The reason the family chooses a group or the youngest member of the family to carry out the honor killing is quite obvious.That is, if the killing is done by a group, each member of the group will have less time in prison if they are caught and if the killing is done by a minor he will probably get the least punishment by the criminal court system. In all these cases the communityís head man will make sure that the murderer or the murderers be represented by the best lawyer, an expert lawyer who can play the system, use the system and finally get the accused ones out of the jail in short time.The head manís job is to collect money for the accused ones, pay their mortgages and look after the rest of the family until their masters return home from jail.

The reality is one cannot resolve the problem of domestic violence or the honor killing without analyzing the roots of these two.

In the case of domestic violence the society have gained enough knowledge about the cause and its characteristic and have put appropriate support systems in place. The law has been reformed for domestic violence and the victims have learned their rights, such as their right to leave the abusers, the right to charge the abusers. And at the same time the system has put various therapeutic sessions in place, for not only the victims of abuse but also for the abusers themselves.†† We all know that with all these supports in place we have yet to end domestic violence, but the main matter is, we at least are heading towards the right direction to tackle this kind of abuse.

In the case of honor killing, the advocates of multiculturalism, cultural relativism and the Islamic movement try hard to mislead the public. They do their best to cover up this horrendous act. In many media interviews, they reduced the cruelty of honor killing to domestic violence.

The reality is that the honor killing has a great tie with the growth of anti-women culture and religious movement, in particular Islamic movements in the West. And as long as they have the support of the states in the West, we would witness more women to be subjected to violence and brutal slaughter for refusing to obey the traditions of their culture.

Imagine a girl is born in an Islamic family, in a community surrounded by people from the same country. Imagine her daily activities from the time she is born to the time she goes to school in heart of Canada but in a community where polygamy (having more than one wife at the same time), arranged and forced marriages are practiced at the very young age. In fact her father has two wives, and her sister is arranged to get married to her first cousin. She is encouraged or forced to cover herself head to toe. Her friends, neighbors and the relatives meet at the mosque down the road at least once a week.At the mosque, through the lead man, she learns having boyfriend is a serious crime and might cost her her life. She also learns disobeying her family; in particular males of the family, and not adopting to the culture of her Islamic society, will unquestionably bring her misery, torment and death by honor killing. So she learns to put a cap on what ever she desires. Only a few become brave enough to take a rule of being forefront of this battle. Unfortunately they are left alone to get slaughtered in this huge battle. The system itself has surrounded a thick wall, much thicker than China Wall, around her community and named it multiculturalism. There is no way she can penetrate through this thick wall alone. She has learned in a harsh way that this system denies universal rights of women and promotes tolerance and respect for so-called minority opinions and beliefs.She sees the system leaving her at the mercy of her own culture and the community head man, the sheik the mullah, her faithful father and brother to impose oppression and cruelty on her even more. In addition the human rights activists, the womenís rights campaigners, the childrenís rights advocators have downgraded the honor killing to domestic violence or chose to keep silent.As the result every year thousands of these brave, fearless young women and teens are slaughtered.

The question is what are our duties? 

It is time to stand up firm and build a political campaign that promotes a political solution and motivates all social activists and concerned global citizens to join forces to end honor killing. And the banner of this campaign must be integration and the concept of the equal and universal rights for all citizens, irrespective of their country of origin, race, gender or religion.